Cop, cleared in beat­ing, in­volved in an­other fight

Rialmo tar­geted, but he didn’t throw punches, at­tor­ney says

Chicago Tribune - - CHICAGOLAND - By Dan Hinkel dhinkel@chicagotri­bune.com

Three days af­ter he was ac­quit­ted of beat­ing two men in a tav­ern in De­cem­ber, Of­fi­cer Robert Rialmo was in­volved in an­other phys­i­cal al­ter­ca­tion af­ter he was asked to leave a North­west Side bar early Fri­day morn­ing, Chicago po­lice said.

Rialmo’s lawyer, how­ever, said the of­fi­cer did not throw any punches in a con­fronta­tion sparked by men who rec­og­nized and ac­costed him as he was re­lax­ing af­ter work.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors were told that Rialmo — who also killed two peo­ple in a con­tro­ver­sial on-duty shoot­ing in late 2015 — was at Teaser’s Pub­lic House in the 7100 block of West Hig­gins Av­enue when an ar­gu­ment oc­curred and some­one spilled beer on the of­fi­cer, said Chicago po­lice spokesman An­thony Guglielmi. There was an al­ter­ca­tion of some kind, and Rialmo was asked to leave by se­cu­rity per­son­nel, Guglielmi said.

Later, out­side a nearby restau­rant around 3:40 a.m., the con­fronta­tion es­ca­lated, Guglielmi said. Shov­ing took place, Guglielmi said, but he could not say whether any punches were thrown. Po­lice have video shot by one of the peo­ple in­volved, the spokesman said.

No one was ar­rested or charged, and all those in­volved went to the Jef­fer­son Park Dis­trict po­lice sta­tion, where they were co­op­er­a­tive, Guglielmi said. Rialmo un­der­went breath test­ing af­ter the in­ci­dent and reg­is­tered a blood al­co­hol con­tent of zero, Guglielmi said, but he could not say what time the test was ad­min­is­tered.

Po­lice In­ter­nal Af­fairs of­fi­cers are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether a crime was com­mit­ted. The city’s po­lice dis­ci­plinary agency, the Civil­ian Of­fice of Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity, is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing, Guglielmi said. Rialmo re­mains on paid desk duty.

The al­ter­ca­tion came three days af­ter Cook County Cir­cuit Judge Daniel Gal­lagher ac­quit­ted Rialmo of two counts of mis­de­meanor bat­tery stem­ming from the fight cap­tured on video in a North­west Side bar in De­cem­ber. Rialmo had taken the stand to con­tend he punched the men in self-de­fense and de­fense of his prop­erty af­ter one tried to take his jacket near clos­ing time. The judge sided with Rialmo.

On Fri­day, Rialmo’s at­tor­ney, Joel Brod­sky, said the of­fi­cer got off work about 1 a.m. and went to the tav­ern. Two men rec­og­nized and ha­rassed him, and one threw beer on him, Brod­sky said. Out­side, the men shouted at him, and one started video-record­ing him, the at­tor­ney said. Rialmo told the man to stop film­ing.

At some point, one of the men charged at Rialmo, Brod­sky said, and the of­fi­cer “swiped him to the side.” The of­fi­cer did not throw any punches, the at­tor­ney said. Rialmo called 911, the at­tor­ney said.

Brod­sky said Rialmo asked him, “What am I gonna do? Am I on lock­down?”

“I told him, ‘Un­for­tu­nately, you’re in the pub­lic eye now. There’s peo­ple out there that feel they have the right to abuse you and you gotta just stay out of sit­u­a­tions where that could pos­si­bly hap­pen.’”

Even as COPA in­ves­ti­gates the new al­ter­ca­tion, the agency is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the De­cem­ber fight. Rialmo al­ready faces po­ten­tial fir­ing by the Chicago Po­lice Board for the 2015 fa­tal, on-duty shoot­ing of bat-wield­ing 19year-old Quin­to­nio LeGrier and by­stander Bet­tie Jones, 55.

Less than a month ago, Rialmo was the fo­cus of a civil trial over law­suits stem­ming from the shoot­ing. Ju­rors unan­i­mously voted to award LeGrier’s fam­ily just over $1 mil­lion but con­tra­dicted their ver­dict by rul­ing that Rialmo rea­son­ably be­lieved he had to fire to pro­tect him­self from the teen as he ap­proached of­fi­cers with a base­ball bat. The judge negated the ver­dict, but lawyers for the LeGrier fam­ily have said they plan to chal­lenge the rul­ing. The jury fore­man has said the panel had in­tended to award the $1 mil­lion to the fam­ily.

Rialmo also ac­ci­den­tally shot Jones while fir­ing at LeGrier, but the city avoided trial with her fam­ily by reach­ing a pro­posed $16 mil­lion set­tle­ment.

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